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Ethanol will power NASCAR races in Fontana this weekend

March 24, 2011 |  5:31 pm

ETHANOL If ever there were a sport with dubious eco-credentials, a NASCAR stock-car race would seem to be it. It's about aerodynamics, high-speed crashes and thundering horsepower in 200 mph laps.

But when the green flag drops at the sport's premier Sprint Cup Series at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana this weekend, it will be emblazoned with a logo that says, "American ethanol" -- and every race car and truck will be fueled by a 15% ethanol blend known as Sunoco Green E15.

NASCAR promoters contend that changing to a renewable fuel demonstrates the sport's commitment to the environment while supporting farm country because most ethanol is made from corn.

More than 100 farmers, ethanol producers and seed and equipment makers will be using NASCAR this year to raise awareness of the benefits of E15, which include more horsepower for the race cars as they whip around the track, said Mike Lynch, managing director of green innovation for NASCAR.

"We debuted the use of this fuel at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, after a lot of work by engine builders to make sure it would work out well," Lynch said."Our high-compression engines run smoother and cleaner with E15 -- like a batter with a perfect stroke."

The renewable fuel is part of NASCAR's ongoing greener strategy, Lynch said. NASCAR already boasts one of the largest event-recycling programs in sports and one of the the world's largest solar-powered facilities at the Pocono Raceway in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

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               California ethanol producer files for bankruptcy

-- Louis Sahagun

Photo: Ethanol-powered race car. Credit: NASCAR